Voters got a glimpse of the candidates for Secretary of State – Republican Ed Goodwin and Democrat Elaine Marshall – at a Thursday night forum in Raleigh.
The League of Women Voters and the NC Center for Voter Education put on the event to turn attention to the down-ballot race and to help people better understand the state office tasked with spurring economic development.
The 50 or so in attendance at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship near downtown were allowed to ask questions, and they ranged from simple – why are you running and what does secretary of state do – to whether state lobbying rules need to be changed.
Marshall, a longtime incumbent of the office, seeking a fifth term, said she is running again to continue working as the "heartbeat of the business community" and to make sure business interests are understood by the General Assembly.
Goodwin applauded many of Marshall's accomplishments, including a new website and a shift in lobbying regulations, but he said it's time to shake things up and let someone else try their hand.
Goodwin said he remembers Marshall, who opposed Richard Burr in the 2010 race for U.S. Senate, blasting Burr’s 16 years in office – the same amount of Marshall has held her current post.
There was also contention on how the secretary of state should interact with business leaders.
Marshall said she is on the road often, interacting with county leaders and interested parties from an array of sectors. Goodwin has often claimed during the campaign that he would go to each of the state’s 100 counties, talking to managers and businesses along the way.
In his closing remarks, Goodwin took issue with Marshall’s attendance of an Occupy Raleigh event. Goodwin said the group “advocate(s) for the overthrow of government and is a “redistributionist organization.”
A woman in the crowd responded – “no they don’t” – but Goodwin insisted he was “disrespected and disgraced” by Marshall’s attendance.
Because of the rules set for the forum, Marshall could not respond to the crowd, but she said in an interview after that it was a “cheap shot” and she pointed out that she has also attended Tea Party events and often speaks to North Carolinians with a wide range of views.
No debates that would allow more back and forth between the candidates have yet been scheduled.